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Tun M, redeemer of Malay dignity

  • On that historic day, the Malay Dignity Congress has, through the mouth of Tun Mahathir, returned the dignity of "Malaysian" Malays and crushed that of "racist" Malays.

By Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

On the past Sunday, Tun Mahathir saved the life and concept of "Malaysia" while redeeming the Malay dignity on the verge of collapse.

The Malay Dignity Congress jointly organized by four local public universities with Malay professor and undergraduate speakers presented coarse and abusive remarks that have hurt the feelings of non-Malay citizens of this country, accusing them of all kinds of iniquities conceivable.

Never in my life had I seen and heard such undignified academic disgusts as demonstrated by this bunch of people on that day in Shah Alam. That was the first time I saw with my own eyes the foolishness of a group of academic extremists in our midst. They wanted to make Tun Mahathir their “hero” by endorsing their racist rhetoric, but our prime minster stood there for a whole 51 minutes slamming the Malays who were lazy, not knowing how to harness the opportunities presented to them and knowing only how to spend and not using the money as capital. In boxing term, the congress organizers were served a “KO” punch in the face, falling flat on the floor of the ring.

In this article, I would like to comment on what Tun Mahathir said, and answer some of the allegations by Pakatan Harapan politicians who criticized the prime minister of saying not-so-nice things like orang asing and “forced to accept them as citizens”.

I wish to remind the academics and local universities not to deliberately exploit the academia and the public's trust to advance their evil motives.

The professor and vice chancellor who hardly had any sense of shame uttered things that could have only come out from the mouths of Perkasa politicians, or members of extremist ISMA and brainless UMMAH. I can forgive the undergraduates for talking such nonsense as they are still very young and immature. But just look at how senseless their teachers are! How are we going to forgive veteran professors and university administrators who stood there unashamedly throwing out vulgar words that have hurt the feelings of our Chinese, Indian and Kadazan compatriots? How can these academics not know about the rampant corruption and abuse of power among the Malay elites that they squarely blame all the ill destinies suffered by the Malays on other people? All these four public universities must be held accountable for the fall of academic dignity taking place on that past Sunday.

Tun Mahathir has repeatedly asked why the Malays are unwilling to take up jobs perceived by many as “dirty” and “dangerous”. If other people are willing to do this, why can't the Malays? He went to a restaurant and saw that foreigners were willing to work hard for hours but not the Malays. They can work at construction sites but not a single Malay man is willing to do the same. In Japan, all these dirty jobs are handled by the Japanese people themselves!

The prime minister also said the government had provided plenty of employment opportunities for the Malays, offering them funds which were abused by them to acquire luxury items such as cars or houses; and contracts which they sold for quick cash they subsequently squandered away. The government has provided training and courses but they simply won't attend. They ask for contracts but when the contracts are handed out to them, they sell them in no time. This is their “get rich quick” culture. I am pretty sure many Malays have fallen victim to "get rich quick” schemes these days.

There was a time I saw Tun Mahathir almost sobbing relating the fate of the Malays. How devastated he was seeing the ill destiny befalling his own people. I couldn't help but smile at the sight of the shocked facial expressions of the extreme academics when their “hero” was hammering the Malays unreservedly, giving them a piece of his mind.

I don't care if politicians talk extremist as this is indeed their job and forte, but this is the first time I heard that four public universities -- UM, UiTM, UPSI and UPM -- were willing to mortgage their academic dignity in such a lowly manner. I myself never expected to hear such disgusting stuff from our public universities on that Sunday.

Now I would like to answer the criticisms from my civil society friends and PH politicians. I beg to differ when they criticized Tun for using the term orang asing in his speech. I also cannot agree with them over Tun's alleged insult of Malaysians by saying “like it or not, we had to accept the orang asing as citizens”. For me, firstly Tun had used the aforementioned term and phrase in the context of history whereby it was true that at that time non-Malays indeed came here as outsiders and the Malays were forced to accept them as citizens in exchange for the country's independence. Secondly, I feel that Tun Mahathir used the term, which was also used by those academic extremists, just to illustrate a historical development and not as a nationalist definition adopted forthright by the speakers before him.

As a conclusion, I would like to state clearly here that I am totally disappointed and terrified hearing what Tun Mahathir had to say on that day. I am disappointed because the academia which I have known for 32 years is willing to stoop so low for narrow-minded political and personal interests of a small group of academics. I am fearful that if the prime minister has endorsed the speeches of these people, it will spell an end to the Malaysian spirit. I am actually shocked and surprised that Tun Mahathir opted to speak the truth instead of exploiting this unique opportunity to shore up his support among the Malays.

We all know that PPBM yearns for the support of the Malays, even those from Umno and PAS. If Tun Mahathir was willing to dance to the tune of the extremists, I'm afraid the Pakatan Harapan administration will come tumbling down, giving way to a new Malays-only government.

Thankfully, Tun Mahathir still has the Malaysian spirit, not the narrow-minded racism, inside him. Tun Mahathir's Malay nationalism is one that is magnanimous and accommodating, while the Malay nationalism of the academic extremists is one that is parochial and lacking in dignity, with absolutely no “Malaysian spirit” to talk about.

On that historic day, the Malay Dignity Congress has, through the mouth of Tun Mahathir, returned the dignity of "Malaysian" Malays and crushed that of "racist" Malays.

I prey that the Almighty will extend the life of Tun Mahathir as a Malaysian statesman and source of inspiration for progressive and liberal Malays.

(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)

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